Bisket Jatra (New Year) Festival in Bhaktapur, Nepal

Due to the massive crowds and lack of any organization or security, at least one person dies each year at the Bisket Jatra Festival (Nepali New Year) in Bhaktapur, Nepal. This year, I was nearly one of them.Bisket Jatra is celebrated over nine days in mid-April in the ancient city of Bhaktapur, center of the Newari who were early inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. For two weeks prior to the holiday, crews decorate an enormous wooden chariot in the center of Taumadhi Square in preparation for carrying the sacred image of the God Bhairav. Considered to be a dangerous deity, Bhairav is symbolically tied to his seat with scores of lengths of reed, which are painstakingly woven around the prow of the chariot where he is seated. Upon completion of the chariot, thick ropes are unfurled from both ends and sent hand over hand into the ecstatic revelers. Men, young and old, grab hold of the ropes and attempt to drag the chariot from the neutral square to their respective sides of town; an ancient tug-of-war that is believed to bestow good luck the following year to the side that is successful.I had gone the day before the event to scope out a site in the square where I could film the event up close and still be safe from the unruly crowd. A two-foot high platform on one end of the square seemed safe, until the action started. I may have almost been trampled to death, but I never stopped filming. To read more about my round-the-world travels, visit my blog,